Centromere pairing in early meiotic prophase requires active centromeres and precedes installation of the synaptonemal complex in maize

Plant Cell. 2013 Oct;25(10):3900-9. doi: 10.1105/tpc.113.117846. Epub 2013 Oct 18.


Pairing of homologous chromosomes in meiosis is critical for their segregation to daughter cells. In most eukaryotes, clustering of telomeres precedes and facilitates chromosome pairing. In several species, centromeres also form pairwise associations, known as coupling, before the onset of pairing. We found that, in maize (Zea mays), centromere association begins at the leptotene stage and occurs earlier than the formation of the telomere bouquet. We established that centromere pairing requires centromere activity and the sole presence of centromeric repeats is not sufficient for pairing. In several species, homologs of the ZIP1 protein, which forms the central element of the synaptonemal complex in budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), play essential roles in centromere coupling. However, we found that the maize ZIP1 homolog ZYP1 installs in the centromeric regions of chromosomes after centromeres form associations. Instead, we found that maize structural maintenance of chromosomes6 homolog forms a central element of the synaptonemal complex, which is required for centromere associations. These data shed light on the poorly understood mechanism of centromere interactions and suggest that this mechanism may vary somewhat in different species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Centromere / metabolism*
  • Chromosomes, Plant / genetics
  • Meiotic Prophase I*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Synaptonemal Complex / metabolism*
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Plant Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AB109238
  • GENBANK/AY371049
  • GENBANK/AY438639
  • GENBANK/FJ008126
  • GENBANK/FJ449711
  • GENBANK/GU479042